AFRICA/CONGO DR - Cholera runs along the river Congo: alert

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Cholera continues to claim victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), especially in the provinces bordering the Congo River, which is therefore both an important trading route and a carrier of the disease. 8 out of 11 provinces are affected by the epidemic. More than 22,000 cases were reported in the last 12 months. Most of them, over 14,000 were recorded in the eastern provinces where cholera is endemic.
With more than 5,500 reported cases (25% of the total number of cases nationwide), the South Kivu Province has paid the heaviest price. Following the capital, Kinshasa, Province Orientale, Bandundu Province and Equator.
Across the country, humanitarian agencies have developed a multi-sectoral response strategy, but have not yet been able to contain the disease. Centers have been created for the treatment of cholera, chlorination of water points, campaigns to raise public awareness have been organized through the media, programs for the training of medical personnel have started and to disinfect the boats that sail along the river.
Aid organizations say they believe that the emergency will end in a reasonable amount of time, but they add that to eradicate the disease from spreading, the Congolese authorities should give priority to investments, to ensure the population access to clean water, safe sanitation services and the health system in general. If these recommendations are not put into practice, according to humanitarian organizations, the waves of cholera epidemic will arise again and, at worst, the disease could affect around 21 million people. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 09/02/2012)

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